Introducing Chris Skotarczak, Regional Manager/Southeast for ContainerPort Group (CPG). The Buffalo, New York-native and father of three recently shared why he loves his job, the projects he’s most proud of and how you’re only as good as your team.
When did you begin working at CPG and how did you grow professionally?
“I’ve been at CPG for four years. I started as an Operations Manager here in Buffalo, New York. I got promoted to Transportation Manager in 2014. And now I’m Regional Manager (Norfolk and Baltimore) which will take me to Norfolk, Virginia.”
You worked your way up the company pretty quickly. Was that your goal when you first arrived?
“I’m 34, so I figured I could put in the hard work now, push myself and reap those benefits while I’m younger. That was my thought process – to achieve my goals much quicker. But I’m only successful because of the team around me here in Buffalo. We have a seasoned group which makes my job easy. I’m here because of the team around me.”
What attracted you to the company?
“I was in between jobs and the company where I was at the time, there wasn’t a lot of upward mobility. I was frustrated because I didn’t see a future there. One day, I came across an ad for a job at CPG and took a stab at it. And I got it!”
What about your work gets you up in the morning? Best things?
“Definitely the people I work with. They are energetic, intelligent and hardworking. I love my job. I never get out of bed dreading going to work. I feel fortunate to be in that place. It’s a great environment, a great company. I don’t take it for granted.”
What projects are you most proud of?
“I’m really proud of the amount of business I’ve grown. When I first started, we did five loads per week. Now we’re up to about 75 loads per week. Guaranteed. Which is very good.”
“Another thing I’m proud of is a large project that came my way in 2014, when I had just been promoted to Transportation Manager. We had the responsibility of delivering 40-plus loads for Justin Timberlake’s concert tour. And we had to accomplish that in a 4-hour window. All of Justin’s stuff – instruments, sound equipment, costumes, lighting, anything and everything that had to do with his tour, even his personal basketball net. I was on-sight coordinating it and we got a lot of positive feedback. I also got some sweet concert seats. That was a nice little bonus! That experience was my first realization that I could handle anything that was thrown at me.”
What do you love about the logistics and supply chain industry?
“It’s never the same thing. Yes, I build the same puzzle, but each day will bring something different. The end goal is to complete the puzzle and service our customers, but each day will bring different people and different puzzle ‘pieces.’ I don’t have a typical, mind-numbing, repetitive job. Every day will bring different challenges, different solutions and different successes.”
What are some things the average person doesn’t know about your industry?
“The first thing that boggled my mind, when I first entered this industry, was the sheer amount of time and planning it takes to get a product from a faraway place to store shelves. As a consumer, you wake up one day and it’s there – Christmas stuff that you don’t realize took six months of planning in August to make it to the store where you’re shopping, lawn chairs and barbecue grills that were delivered in the wintertime. There’s a lot of planning to make sure products not only get to their destination, but make it on time.”
What are three things your co-workers might not know about you?
“I think when people meet me for the first time, they think I have a really weird sense of humor. I’m a weird dude to wrap your mind around. But once you get to know me, I’m really easy going.”
“I like sports. I play hockey and I’m on a competitive softball league.”
“I’m a huge history buff. I’m really into American history, particularly the Civil War and World War II. There also an intellectual side that I doesn’t come out often – I have two degrees, a Bachelors in History with a minor in English and I have a Masters degree in Education.”
What are your career goals?
“To keep putting in hard work and trying to make the company better than it was when I first arrived. I would like to be VP in the next 5 to 10 years. And when I get there, I will re-examine, create new goals and conquer them, then create again. I try to never have a final goal and instead I have the ‘next one.’ That way you always have something new. I don’t ever want to be done. I will always challenge myself.”
When was your last “a-ha” moment?
“When I was securing new business with Guardian Industries and it came down to a conference call to seal the deal. I was on the call and (in my head) I was like, ‘Wow! I sound confident, reliable, believable.’ The customer trusted me and that’s how I got the business. I realized I had that confidence. That I can talk to anybody and I can set my mind and do anything I want to.”
What advice would you give to someone interested in getting into your field?
“Be open-minded. Be flexible. Be willing to learn. Because there are so many people in this industry that have a wealth of knowledge. I learn something new every day.”
Your new position will take you from Buffalo – where you grew up – to Norfolk, Virginia. It will be the first time you leave your hometown. What do you think that’ll be like?
“Buffalo is a big small city. The one thing about Buffalo, everyone knows somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody. It’s beneficial especially in business, in what we do. Everyone’s connected. It’s a tight knit community. I’ve traveled a lot but this will be the first time my wife and I move to a different part of the US. I’ve never lived anywhere else so I’m excited, thrilled, nervous and terrified all at the same time.”